Sunday, January 29, 2017

Where Do You Find Home?

Sunset over the Waddington Range taken from the Homathko Ice-Field.
I recently watched the Arcteryx film "Crossing Home" and have been thinking about it since! It's about 2 skiers traveling through the BC Coast Mountains.

Check it out!!

https://vimeo.com/182970337

The question I've been contemplating is not where home is but where do you find home?

I often get the question "Where are you from?" or  "Where do you live?" and it's hard to answer these questions for me!

This is the usual answer - "I'm from New Brunswick but I live in my van or wherever I'm working" and that is often followed with - "So you don't have an address?" answer - "Well I have multiple" anyway you get where I'm going and if not that is totally fine, it is hard to explain!

Climbing "The Kraken" in Walton Glen Canyon in New Brunswick early this winter. Photo by Don Ricker
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We all have a different place we call home and for me it is constant moving to be close or in the mountains. When I'm in the mountains I feel alive, happy and a since of being. Everything slows down the chaos of people, cars and all the technology are hidden in the distance and out of site! It's just you, your partners what's in your pack and the mountains! This is where I find home and I would recommend it to anyone!

Ryan Van Horne climbing during the FA of No Particular Morning or Evening WI3+ 90m on Vancouver Island.

I have spent one third of my time over the past few month skiing and climbing in and around the mountains of the BC Coast. Here are a few photo's of my adventures in the place where I find home.


Mike Loch skiing the steep and deep off the northwest ridge of Steep Peak.

Just look at the amazing view!

Ashlie Ferguson rippin the cold smoke of Vancouver Island with Mt Myra in the distance.

Dropping in the North Bowl of Mt. Myra Photo by Ashlie Ferguson

The friends you travel with in these places are special! Me and Mitch Harter with Mt Moyeha an numerous Island Alps in the distance. Photo by Ashlie Ferguson

If you're ever wondering where I am you can probably just guess I'm in the hills or close to them climbing, skiing or working!

Our simple little home in the hills! Not a bad view eh?
Thanks to the amazing BC Coast Mountains! The incredible people I get to share this amazing home with! It is most definitely a pleasure and a privilege.


Peak 9331 and the 10 001ft Mt. Grenville to its right.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Adventures! Old and New!



Panorama from the summit of Dome Peak.
So it has been awhile since I last wrote about my adventures. Partly due to life getting in the way, laziness and just not feeling the stoke. Either way today I got excited to share. This is a brief summary of the past 8 months and some exciting new adventures to come!

APRIL!
I think my first outing was on Vancouver Island climbing the North Spur of Kings Peak with Ashlie, Seb, Bill and Steve and skied of the summit. I love Kings for its quick access and fun terrain!
Me and Ashlie walking to the summit of Kings Peak. Photo by Seb
 
One thing I have done more this year that I haven’t in the past few was getting out kayaking. I paddled around the Gold River area with Paul Dempsey, Allison Bray and Chris Scotten. We paddle the upper Gold River and then went exploring around the small, remote coastal town of Tahsis. We weren’t totally sure what we would find.

After looking at some maps we decided to go scout the Sucowa River which flows south away from Tahsis along road and the Perry River which flows north also along the Tahsis road. Of the two the Perry looked to be have a better flow and gradient so we went for it. It was a 7km run with and 4-5% gradient. The flow was medium low which was good for us on this exploratory descent. The river itself is mostly steep boulder gardens with long continuous sections. We paddled all but one section that was unrunnable (boulder sieve). The run is excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone comfortable on steep bouldery class 4 to 5.

Max on a larger rapid on Perry River. Photo by Paul Dempsey
Chris Scotten running the money rapid on Perry River. Photo by Paul Dempsey

MAY!
Ashlie Ferguson and I paddled across Upper Campbell lake to the Elk River Delta and went exploring on Big Den Mountain in late May and climbed a new 300m route on the left side of the SE face called Contemplating Emotions. We decided to leave the rope at camp and then proceeded to slowly and patiently make our way up this beautiful aesthetic buttress that had difficulties up to 5.5 with wicked exposure! I recommend taking a rope to future parties.

Ash climbing on lower part Contemplating Emotions.
 
Ashlie on the high exposed ramp on CE.

Then Puntledge River Festival! This river is amazing! It has excellent playboating from huge playful holes to steep green waves for long boats. The upper Puntledge is like nothing else on the island! It has huge Norway style sides and it climax’s at Stotan Falls with a powerful 15ft falls into a continuous section with a few munchie holes and another falls that’s 20ft. There is so much fun to be had for all levels of ability on this river!!

JUNE!
As the summer progressed I worked a NOLS Mountaineering course that traversed the Homathko Ice-field. This course was excellent for so many reasons! The students, my co-instructor, Marcelo Mascareno, and getting to explore a zone I hadn’t been. It also rekindled my stoke to explore new places with my friends. This trip started a new fire for me which I will share more about later.
Sunset on Waddington! Amazing!!
On route to the summit of Plateau Peak!
Making our way across the Homathko Ice-field. Mt Grenville in the distance.
 
JULY!
After finishing the Homathko traverse I headed to the Yukon for a 21 day NOLS canoe trip. We paddled the Finlayson River into Frances Lakes and down the Frances River to Upper Liard. This is a fun adventurous trip with amazing whitewater in the Finlayson especially! You have to work pretty hard carrying your gear and canoes around the 200m deep class 3-4 Finlayson Canyon. After that the Frances is fun class 2-3 whitewater with great Bull Trout and Greyling fishing!
AUGUST!
I said bye to the Yukon and headed to Squamish where I meet up with Ashlie Ferguson, Amy Whitaker, Martin Arteaga Miranda, Isidora Llarena and Greg Sinclair for some sweet and much needed rock climbing! Ashlie, Amy, Martin, Isi and I did some cragging at the Smoke Bluffs for a few days and then Ashlie and I climbed Over the Rainbow on the Apron. A day or two later Greg and I connected for a fun day out on Parallel Passages up on the North Walls. Though my time this summer in Squamish was limited I had a blast getting out on the beautiful silver granite! Thanks team for the good times!

Ashlie climbing slab on Over the Rainbow!
 
  

Greg sending on Parallel Passages.

A few days after Squamish I was climbing on the south face of Tom Taylor with Russell Henry and Jordan Lodders. We climbed Finnigans Buttress an excellent 300m 5.9! It was Jordan's first alpine climb and a great day out! We also traveled up there with Ciara and Carly who climbed the standard route on Tom Taylor which is also a beautiful climb!!

South face of Tom Taylor!

It wasn't to long before I found myself back in WA getting ready for another mountaineering course, this time up Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan. Vivianna Callahan, myself and 7 students ventured through the North Cascades learning mountaineering, leadership skills and summiting Mt Baker and Shuksan along the way!!

Oh and I can't forget the purchase of my new home! Here is Gus the Bus!


 

Ok, I'm going to brag a little here! Gus is fully camperized with a 3 way fridge, propane stove, greywater storage, a shower, 44 liter water storage and a pop top!

SEPTEMBER!
I made my way from WA to Strathcona Park Lodge to work a 6 day Intro to Mountaineering Course for the COLT program which went well. The students were wonderful and we had a great time in the Mt Myra area! Cheer Bill Phipps for working with me :)
After that I connected with Ryan Van Horne and we headed for a run up into the Kings Peak area. With moderate weather we decided not to commit to our main objective and instead climbed a super fun new route on Queens Face. It is about 250m and goes at 5.7.
Ryan climbing through the crux of our route on Queens Face.
Ryan midway up on Queens Face.

And once again I found myself back in WA getting ready for my last course of the season. I got really excited for this course because I was working with my good friend Mitch Harter! We had a blast working with our students!
Glacier Peak


OCTOBER!
We got to adventure from Sloan Creek Trail up over Glacier Peak and down to the Downey Creek Trail, Head. Got re-rationed and headed up Downey Creek Trail up Dome Peak, traversed to South Cascade Glacier and down the South Cascade River "Trail" a very bushy one...... out to Cascade River Rd and back to the branch. Strong work team you all crushed it!

Getting up to Strathcona for Thanksgiving dinner was my next adventure, which included a stop in Nanaimo to paddle Cooper Canyon on the Chemanius River with Shayne, Mark and Steve and that same night pulling on some tights and covering the rest of my body with multiple colours of glitter to going dancing at a Strathcona, Space themed, Barn Party!! Eating Thanksgiving Dinner!! Getting the Gold River Trifecta Upper, Middle, Lower at 150cms which is a great level! And the icing on the cake was exploring the Nesook River near Tahsis with Russell Henry! This river is one of my favorites ever! Is just builds the whole time! An excellent class 4-5 run with lots of kick and you can portage everything if your willing to brave the temperate rainforest!

The top of the business on the Nesook. Photo by Russel Henry
Russ looking up the business on the Nesook. We portaged this!


When I was in WA finishing up my course I made plans to go climbing in Smith Rock with Catherine Arensberg! So after the Nesook I jumped on the ferry and made my way to Catherine, picked her up in Gus (my van) and headed for Smith! The weather was hit and miss but we made the best of it! We ran into Bryan Sexauer while we where there and he joined us for Gus's first pizza party! On our way home we stopped for a day of climbing in Vantage WA which was awesome!

Gus's first road trip!!
Catherine hanging out in one Gus's classy swivel seats!
While climbing in the gym in Campbell River I go a phone call from Larry Stanier. Larry is on the John Lauchlan Memorial Award review team. He called with the news that Fred Giroux and I won 2017 John Lauchlan Memorial!!! I didn't know what to say I was blown away and finally said thank you and how honored I was to receive this award! So excited for this adventure with Fred which will likely happen in May 2017.

Our objective for the JLA! Peak 9331 close to Mount Grenville on the Homathko Ice-field.
johnlauchlanaward.com check it out!

The past week has been hanging out with my parents who came out for a visit!!!!! so much fun with them! It was so wonderful to see you two!!! Surfing in Tofino with some wonderful friends Adele, Ciara, Scotty, Ashlie and Anna Lucia!!


Ciara, Scotty, Anna Lucia and Adele!!

 NOVEMBER!
I got a paddle on the Cooper with Russell November 2nd! I drove to Golden to meet up with

Fred. We received the John Lauchlan Memorial Award at the Banff Film Festival Saturday November 5th. That night Fred headed back to Golden to get ready to go surfing and beach living in Nicaragua and I drove north up Hwy 93 to meet Paul Rachele to go climbing in the Ice-fields Parkway.

Paul and I organized in Banff the afternoon of November 5th so we would be able to take advantage of the cold weather in the ice-fields. We are both pretty excited that we did that because the weather has warmed up and we haven't been able to get in the hills since.

So November 6th we got up and climbed Side Street on Little Snow Dome. It is super fun! There is a bit of snow slogging but the climbing was in great condition for us! The approach was 2hrs. We were on the route for 6hrs... with the waist to nipple deep snow slogging taking up most of that time! and got down to the cars by 10pm. Our conditions were M5 WI3+.
Max soloing up the first steeper section on Side Street. Photo by Paul Rachele




Since getting off Little Snow Dome we have spent sometime in Jasper eating burgers, hanging out with friends, sitting in Canmore's Safeway parking lot using the Wifi, drytooling at the Playground in Canmore and driving to trail heads to find the shit weather to follow and a flat tire.... dang! Now it is November 12th and we're hanging out in Canmore again! Well fingers crossed the cold comes and we're able to get out in the hills! Oh yeah on November 18th the Night of Lies is happening! Cornerstone Theatre in Canmore at 7pm. See ya there!

















Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Long Over Due!

Baby-sisting my little nephew Charlie! He love's hanging upside down! Check out that smile! Photo by Ashlie Ferguson
As life flies by I wonder how each of use gets caught up in our complexities of adventure? Whether it is a life of climbing, being a weekend warrior, raising a family or a combo they are all valuable and for some reason I have a hard time figuring it all out. What's really cool is most of use have these challenges, so there are often people that are willing to talk, share and help you out in ways you haven't thought about. These are things I love about my life as I adventure around. So this post is for those people who I hold close, shared a rope with and have helped me work through some of my other challenges over the past while. So thanks in advance and enjoy the read about my adventures over the past few months.

Where do I start? When I got back to New Brunswick in December the ice east coast scene was battling a warm winter. Regardless we still got out for some new routing in Cape D'Or NS.

Luc Gallant and I climbing Early Bird gets the Worm WI4 55m and Lucas Toron and I climbed Battling the Winds of Warm Winter WI4+ 100m. Also there was a seige of new routing that happened in the Walton Glen area that was headed up by Greg Hughes, koodoo's to Greg and company for putting up some proud lines!

Also koodoo's to Luc and Marty for getting on the Pomme D'Or in Quebec this season! Stoked for you guys!

Battling the Winds of Warm Winter
Luc approaching Early Bird Gets the Worm

Luc on the Early Bird
An unclimbed 90m WI6. Though it was warm this one was so close to being ready!

I also got to go ski touring with Ashlie in the Chic Choc National Park in Quebec which was fantastic. We spent a week up there skiing around. We skied around Mt Albert, Hogs Back and spent 3 days touring and ripping turns around Mont Logan! Thanks Nicholas Letourneau for hosting us and all the beta!
Ash crushing the up on the way to the summit of Mont Logan!


Enjoying a wicked sunset!

So Cute :)

:)


With the tempermental ice season underway I decided to look into an American SW climbing road trip. I hadn't put much energy into pure rock climbing over the past 2 years and thought it would get me excited to push my rock climbing again!

So as of February 26th I jumped in Estie (Ash Ferguson's 79 Westfalia) and started the trip.

First stop was Amqui, Quebec for some skiing, awesome food and even better people! Thanks folks :)

From Amqui Ashlie and I drove as team VW Golf and Westfalia to Montreal where we stopped to visit more wonderful friends, put a new starter in the van and catch a Wintersleep concert! So awesome by the way. Ash and I continued the VW drive through Toronto where we diverged, I continued west into the USA and she started north then west visiting friends in Barrie, TBay, Regina, Cranbrook and finally home in Coquitlam BC.

My drive through the mid-west was great because Estie doesn't have a heater and the temps went from -20C in eastern Canada to +20C through Nebraska and all the way to Indian Creek.
Estie psyched to be in the desert!
I found my friend Noel Cockney at the Creek Pasture campground and we got in a few days of excellent crack climbing before I had to make my way to Red Rock to meet up with more folks and desert climbing.

Thought the head lights in Estie stopped working I was still able to get to Vegas and pick up my Austrailian friend Ngaire at the airport only 12 hrs last. Fortunately I was able to let her know so she wasn't wondering what in the world had happened to me. That same day I got Estie an appointment at the Westfalia doctor and fortunately she was all fixed up :)

Ngaire is a newer climber and we had fun pushing each other through different barriers both through climbing and recent life events. Not to long after I meet up with Ngaire more good people arrived in Red Rock. New Brunswick climbers Lucas, Kristy and company arrived in Vegas and through them we also meet Taylor and Katelyn who we camped, drank beers and climbed desert stone with. Not long after meeting up with those fine folks Ben Fox also joined the mix and our climbing adventures really got underway!

Ben, Ngaire and I climbed a number of routes together, here's a list: Stairway to the Stars 5.9 (with Ngaire) , Our Father 5.10d, Triassic Sands 5.10d, Amber 5.10c, Women of Mountain Dreams 5.11a (with Ben) and Guys from Josh 5.10c. I also was fortunate enough to connect with a former NOLS student who was on his March Break. Nate Mancovich and I climbed Space Cowboys 5.10b and the first 4 pitches of Adventure Punks unfortunately we didn't have a #6 cam which you basically need to bump up the whole 50m 5th pitch.

Ngaire on the beautiful hand crack on Stairway to the Stairs!
Taylor on pitch 3 of The Warrior.

Nate on pitch 4 of Adventure Punks.
 

After a number of great days climbing with these folks Taylor, Katelyn and I headed up to the Cactus Flower Tower to have a battle with The Warrior 5.11a. It is a physical route with sustained 5.10/10+ chimney climbing. Once at the base Katelyn opted to hangout and chill while Taylor and I went for it. After some groveling chimney climbing for 50m Taylor topped out the first pitch. I them took over and climbed the next 2 pitches a fun stemming corner with good crack and chimney climbing higher up to a belay and then the money pitch! A 40m flaring chimney with a nice hand/fist crack for protection. At the top of this pitch Taylor wasn't feeling it, so we decided to head down. Even though climbing isn't necessarily a team sport you do have to take into account your partner and there needs. Thanks for getting up there with me Taylor and giving it a go! The retreat just meant I had to go back again :)

I love Red Rock for the variety of climbing and one route on my list was Women of Mountain Dreams a 15 pitch 5.11a that goes up the middle of the Aeolian Wall on Mt. Wilson. So I mentioned in a group conversation around the fire that I wanted to go on a adventure up there and Ben Fox was excited to join me. So we got organized and made it happen! The day started in the dark with mate and a quick bit to eat. We were soon at the trail head with the sun rising behind us lighting up Mt.Wilson. We quickly made our way to the base and to our surprise another party was ahead of us. We had good conversation throughout the day as we moved and shared belays and the hike down. The climbing was varied and mostly sustained at 5.9 with a few 5.10 pitches and the crux 5.11a pitch... and then a wild airy 5.10 move just below the summit with hundreds of metres of air below put icing on the cake! The whole day was about 14 hrs of hiking and climbing which was one of my favourite climbing days in a long time!

Ben on the crux pitch of Women of Mountain Dreams.

A huge part of this SW road trip was to meet up with a large group for NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) instructors for a week of climbing, rope rescue skills development and growth regardless of what level a climber you were. So on March 20th I picked up Greg Hughes, Kim Herrick and Ashlie Ferguson at the Vegas airport and we meet up with 35+ fellow NOLS instructors and speckled ourselves all over Red Rocks for the next week!

Ngaire, Ben and I still hung out in the campground together but our climbing partners started to change.
-I roped up with Kim Herrick, Ashlie Ferguson, Noel Cockney and Greg Hughes for a day of sport climbing in the Calico Hills.
-Noel and Greg for a burn on Bighorn Buttress an excellent and highly recommended 4 pitch 5.11a in Willow Springs.
-Noel, Ashlie, Kim and I had a fantastic big day out on Kalieodoscope Cracks 5.8 10 pitches in Oak Creek Canyon. 
-Ashlie and I had a super fun day on Hot Flash 5.8 8 pitches in First Creek Canyon.

Ash pulling the roof on Hot Flash!
Ash cruising Hot Flash.

And then Noel and I headed up to finish The Warrior! I have to say this is one of the best routes I have climbed! It is just so fun, a bit burly and run-out but ultimately safe. The combo of these few things encompass why I love climbing so much!
Noel in the heart of The Warrior.
Noel cruising the flaring chimney!

Pitch 4 more chimney climbing!
Noel styling pitch 5 tips to slightly run-out face!

So I left Red Rock yesterday with a new sense of place. I feel rejuvenated and stoked for the next adventure. I have started to heal some strains I have created and am excited to continue pursing those challenges. So thanks to all the people that I roped up with over this past month of climbing! I look forward to climbing with you all again soon! And thanks to the climbing/transient lifestyle I have chosen, you have done wonders on my psyche as I let go of the old and enter the new!